In my district we have been discussing the subject of Digital Citizenship as we coming with a "plan" to roll out to all our K-12 teachers for next year. With Digital Citizenship on my plate right now, I am gathering resources and ideas and thought I would share some of these out with the community. My previous post was about Software Piracy and this one is on Copyright.
As we look at all the great resources out there and we've decided to focus on the Common Sense Media curriculum. The scope and sequence which you can find here has provided a great path for both our teachers and students to become familiar with all that is required in being a "good Digital Citizen".
In all these conversations and research, I have revisited one of these great lessons on copyright which have used for years in my Web Design courses at the high school; the story of the song "Bittersweet Symphony" by the Verve.
Take a moment to read this post and share it with your students or other teachers as a great example of "Ask for permission before you use something!"
In 1997 the British band The Verve released their song "Bitter Sweet Symphony" which became an instant hit. This song was certified Gold and what helped make it so popular was the main repeating theme. After the song's release and subsequent rise to stardom, there were conversations about this theme; wasn't this sampled from another song?
Sampling is "the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece." (Wikipedia)
Now this story isn't just a simple one of sampling theft like that of Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" taken from Queen's "Under Pressure". Which by the way is another interesting story. Like the Verve, Vanilla Ice settled out of court but the settlement was closed so it is not public the extent which Vanilla Ice has had to pay for his illegal sampling.
BTW, here is a hilarious clip of Vanilla Ice trying to convince the public that his riff was different from that of Queens.
Now back to the story of the Verve. Lets have you listen to a bit of the song first. No need to listen to it all, but you should notice the main theme.
But check this out... the theme was originally from the Rolling Stones song 1965 song, "The Last Time". What's odd though, is that when you listen to this you may not be able to hear the similarity. Take a listen to the original song below
Did you hear where it was sampled from? Not that easy huh?
But hold on... there is another song that fits in this story. In the late 1960's a group called the Andrew Oldham Orchestra ASKED and RECEIVED permission from the Rolling Stones to do a orchestral version of their song. This is the missing piece in this copyright story. Listen to this song and then you will hear the similarity.
It was this song which the The Verve heard and wanted to use on on their song. And it was this which cost them dearly, this hugely popular song was now a example of copyright infringement.
The Verve decided to settle out of court and and in the end handed over 100 percent of their songwriting royalties to the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
You would think that artists today may have learned from these lessons, but come on.... we're human! We don't often learn from mistakes.
Case in point, the "Blurred Lines" incident from a few years ago. Robin Thicke was forced to pay 7.3 million to Marvin Gaye's estate for ripping of his song "Got To Give it Up"
So, as we have our students learn about concepts of Digital Citizenship, try using examples like these to help your kids see that reality of permission and rights.